Even though the room had become almost intolerable for
him, his practice compelled him to be often in town, and
there was no other place for him to stay. He fell into the
habit, however, of taking a bottle of whisky up to his room.
It helped him to sleep, he thought.
But at the Ball place it was different. The steadiness of
the life there, although it was not his life, steadied him. If
that spied-on and awaited and rare expression in the eyes of
Cordelia when she looked at her husband stabbed him, or if
the calm fulfilment on the face of Portia at the moment after
her father's prayer when she rose to her feet disturbed him
with its alien secret, those things, nevertheless, sustained him.
And there was Professor Ball, who had read, " The Lord is
my strength and song "; and Doctor MacDonald.
In Bardsville, the guardsmen camped in the little park
across from the railroad station. Day after day Mr. Munn had
seen them there. And he had seen them in the evening, on
the roads at the edge of town, silently sitting their mounts.
They were guarding the town, and people were grateful to
them for it. People would go down to watch them parade, or
to watch them lounging on the grass in their idle moments.
The soldiers hung round the drugstores and poolrooms and
saloons, making jokes, swaggering a little. And some of the
hangers-on would fawn on them, and make jokes too; only a
few would stare insolently at them, not speaking. In the
early evening soldiers would walk slowly down the streets
with girls beside them. Some of the officers went to dinner
in the big brick houses where the warehouse managers and
the most successful buyers lived, and Mr. Gay, who owned
the Merchants* Bank, and Mayor Alton and Judge Howe.
Or the officers helped to drill the men who formed the Home
Guard. The town accepted the soldiers; they fell into the
life there, scarcely altering the pattern, They were guarding
the town. They were saving the town. Their sentinels paced
up and down at night or sat their mounts by the roadside.
At night they paced up and down alongside the blackened
areas where the warehouses had been. In the day workmen